New Delhi: External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj dismissed the controversy surrounding the multi-crore Rafale fighter jet deal on Thursday saying that Controversy is ‘only in the minds’ of the Congress, even as several MPs from the party staged a walkout from the Upper House.
During the Question Hour, Congress leader Anand Sharma, citing a joint statement, demanded that the central government make public the minutes of the meeting that took place between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French President Francois Hollande at Elysee Palace in Paris on April 10, 2015.
After briefly describing the Rafale deal, Sharma said: “I am referring to a joint statement whereby Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French President Francois Hollande had met (in Paris) on April 10, 2015. Will the government make the minutes of the meeting public since there is a controversy, and that would settle it once for all one way or the other.”
Looking unperturbed, Swaraj said that there was nothing controversial in the deal and maintained that even the Supreme Court had given a clear ruling in the matter.
“There is no controversy at all. It is only there in your mind. Whatever controversial issues you have raised, the Supreme Court, which is the highest judicial forum of the country, cleared the matter as well. Despite this, you are using the word controversy,” she said.
The Union Minister said the entire nation knew that there was “no controversy” surrounding the high-profile defence deal.
“If they still continue to have this controversy in their minds, then no one can answer about it,” Swaraj remarked.
However, unmoved, several Congress MPs continued to shout slogans in the House, following which the party parliamentarians staged a walkout from the Rajya Sabha.
On Wednesday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had threatened to play an audio tape in the Lok Sabha that purportedly claimed that former Defence Minister and now Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had the Rafale files with him.
Gandhi, however, aborted the idea after a strong protest from the treasury benches and insistence from Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to authenticate the tapes.
The Congress president also expressed his desire to have a direct debate with Prime Minister Modi over the issue of the Rafale fighter plane procurement.
The Rafale jet deal controversy has been on the boil over the last a few months. The Congress and other opposition parties have been alleging irregularities in the high-profile deal for purchase of 36 fighter jets, which the ruling BJP has outrightly denied.